New Year's Resolutions: In One Year, Out the Other (cont.)

The problem with most New Year's resolutions is that they tend to accentuate the negative rather than latch on to the affirmative, says Lynne Brodie of Carnelian Coaching in Ashburn, Va.

"Resolutions are all about taking something away from someone," she says. "No one ever says 'I'm going to get healthy." I think if people framed it differently and made it more of a positive experience, then it would be easier for people to keep resolutions, and psychologically it would make them feel a lot better about themselves."

In her role as professional and business coach, Brodie helps clients realize that when they talk about losing 20 pounds, their goal isn't weight loss, but looking better or feeling healthier.

"And if someone comes to me and says their goal is to look better, or to feel better, there are other ways, and it may not be about weight loss," she tells WebMD.

The first and most important step to keeping New Year's resolutions, therefore, is to understand your goals, perhaps with the help of a professional who knows how to ask the right questions and help you focus on what you really want and how best to achieve it, she says.

Life coach Marlene Gonzalez thinks it's fine to have New Year's resolution but doesn't think much of their effectiveness.

"I think you need life resolutions that can help you transform your life," says Gonzalez, president of the Life Coaching Group, based in Chicago. "Many people make resolutions at the beginning of the year but then they forget about it. They need something that empowers them to change and transform their lives."

Gonzalez says that people should develop personal power and accountability to make changes and take control of their lives.

"We're in an economic crisis now, and this has opened everyone's eyes," she says. "What we need is to look deep inside, really know who we are and what we want out of life, and put plans together."

'An Incredibly Good Idea'

New Year's resolutions may not find favor with many professional motivators, but at least one is gung ho about them.

"I believe they're an incredibly good idea," says Gary Ryan Blair, who teaches strategic planning and goal-setting initiatives for individuals, entrepreneurs, and corporations. "No. 1, New Years is the only holiday that celebrates the passage of time, and No. 2, it's the first opportunity you have in the new year to remake yourself, to make your first commitment to change."

The challenge, says Blair, whose company The GoalsGuy has offices in Syracuse, N.Y., and Palm Harbor, Fla., is not in making New Year's resolutions, but in keeping them by honoring the commitment to change. To be successful, he says, a resolution -- whether it's for personal improvement or a sure-fire business plan -- needs to be specific, have measurable landmarks, and a solid deadline.

"If you mix all three of those together, and your resolutions meet those criteria, you will significantly increase the probability of success," he says.

Love them or loathe them, New Year's resolutions are nothing if not a time-honored tradition, and if after reading all this you still have good intentions of keeping your New Year's resolutions, you may wish to consider the following lines a brash young writer by the name of Samuel Clemens penned for the Virginia City Enterprise on Jan. 1, 1863:

"Now is the accepted time to make your regular annual good resolutions," wrote Clemens, under the pen name Mark Twain. "Next week you can begin paving hell with them as usual."

SOURCES: Elizabeth Zelvin, LCSW, New York.

Darin P. St. George, Trainer X fitness, Upton, Mass.

Jason, Elias, PhD, McLean Hospital, Belmont, Mass.

Lynne Brodie, Carnelian Coaching, Ashburn, Va.

Marlene Gonzalez, Life Coaching Group, Chicago.

Gary Ryan Blair, The GoalsGuy, Syracuse, N.Y., and Palm Harbor, Fla. "Popular New Year's Resolutions."

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Last Editorial Review: 12/31/2009 11:11:40 AM